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ADVOCACY & POLICY UPDATE - April 17th, 2023

Su Confirmation Hearing This Week; New EDA Funding Opportunity

Washington Update

Su Confirmation

On Wednesday, April 12, Republican members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee sent a letter expressing ‘disappointment’ at their inability to schedule a meeting with DOL Secretary nominee Julie Su prior to her upcoming confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday, April 20th. On Thursday, April 13, Senator Joe Manchin (WV) expressed ‘deep reservations’ he has about Su. There has not yet been a Democrat to openly oppose Su, but several moderates, such as Senators Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Jon Tester (MT), face tough re-election challenges next year and have not yet declared their stance on her confirmation.

In 2021, Su was confirmed to be DOL Deputy Secretary on a party-line vote and Republicans will all likely hold that stance this time around. Therefore, Democrats need full support of their party, including undecided moderates, in order for Su to move forward. On Sunday, Senate Help Chair Bernie Sanders (VT) acknowledged her precarious situation. On Friday, April 23, United Mine Workers’ President Cecil Roberts, a key Manchin ally, sent a letter to Senate leadership supporting Su’s nomination. Su also has additional labor support as AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler wrote an op-ed for Ms. Magazine last week urging her confirmation.

Click here to access the Republican letter.

Click here to access the letter from Cecil Roberts.

Click here to access the op-ed.

STEM Talent Challenge Funding Opportunity

On Tuesday, April 11, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced it is now accepting applications for its $4.5 million STEM Talent Challenge to support programs to train science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent and fuel regional innovation economies across the nation. The competition will provide funding for programs that help build a robust STEM workforce in emerging and transformative sectors, such as aerospace, aeronautics, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and cybersecurity, among others. Competitive applications will demonstrate how programs will develop or expand regional STEM workforce capacity to support entrepreneurial ventures, industries of the future, and other innovation-driven businesses. Eligible applicants include cities, counties, states, other political subdivisions of states, and Tribal Nations; as well as non-profit organizations, public-private partnerships, federal laboratories or science/research parks, institutions of higher education, Economic Development Organizations, and consortia of the aforementioned with government support.

Click here to learn more about the funding opportunity.

HELP Committee

On Tuesday, April 18, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (VT) and Senate HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families chairman Bob Casey (PA) will be joined by President of National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) Ai-jen Poo and International President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Mary Kay Henry for a town hall at the U.S. Capitol on workforce shortages in the care industry. The event is part of a larger push by care advocacy groups for more federal funding investment in these sectors. The care workforce has struggled to hire and retain workers - challenges that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Click here to learn more about the town hall.

House Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

On Tuesday, April 18, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold the budget hearing “Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the United States Department of Education.” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will be the witness at the hearing.

Click here to access the live stream and learn more about the hearing.

EDA Tech Hubs Fact Sheet

On Friday, April 14, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) released an expanded fact sheet for the Tech Hubs program, which aims to build and evolve innovation centers in key U.S. regions; accelerate regions’ evolution into a global leader in an industry of the future; and strengthen U.S. global competitiveness with critical technologies. The fact sheet is designed to help those interested in applying for the upcoming funding opportunity with requirements, timelines, and other pertinent program information.

Click here to access the fact sheet.

Initial Jobless Claims

In the week ending April 8, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 239,000, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 228,000. The 4-week moving average was 240,000, an increase of 2,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 237,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.2 percent for the week ending April 1, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week's unrevised rate.

Click here to access the report.

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